These days, doing a good job as an ICT or Technology Co- ordinator/Subject Leader is not enough. In order to get on in your career, you have to be seen
to be doing a good job.
In this article, I consider how to attract students to take the courses you offer, and why this is relevant even if your students have no choice anyway.
Here's a simple equation, which even if you're no good at math you'll be able to understand:
Students = money = resources.
Here's another one:
As the number of students taking up your courses increases, so does your standing in the eyes of the boss.
Now, you might be in a school that makes everyone take an ed tech course anyway. "So", you think to yourself, "I'm sitting pretty. What do I have to try for?". That's a pretty short-sighted view because another thing you'll be judged on is how many of your students want to carry on with the subject after they've left school. Actually, the same thing even applies at primary (elementary) school: if half of your ex-pupils turn up at their first high school ICT lesson looking as if they'd rather have pins stuck in their eyes, that really will not do your reputation much good.
OK, so here are some proven techniques for attracting more students:
- Make your lessons interesting. That oughtta be a no-brainer, but it ain't -- or at least, not to some people. Read my book, "Go On, Bore 'Em! How to make ICT lessons excruciatingly dull" for some excellent advice in this area.(Note: I think I ought to declare a bit of an interest here!)
- Run the highest level courses you can. Low level courses attract low-level students by encouraging them to see it as an easy option. Raise the game by running courses that are challenging and which also have a practical payoff, like better job prospects or better grades in the next education phase, whether that is the high school the child goes to or the university course a student chooses.
- Never say "If you take this subject at a higher level...": only ever say "when". That's right: make sure your language reflects the expectations you'd like it to reflect (because it always will reflect them whether you like it or not).
- Always display kids' work, not posters from magazines. That way, you show that you're interested and committed.
- Make it easy for them to do the things they want to, anywhere, not just in your lessons.
- Have plenty of information available for students who are thinking of taking it further. Oh yeah, and when I say "available", I mean at their convenience, not yours.
- Be helpful, pleasant and reliable. Students often select courses based on what they think of the teacher. I'm not saying you should try and be their best buddies and bribe them with cookies, just that it doesn't cost anything to behave like a decent human being.